us follow suit and bring in laws in favor of remote workers
United States – Portugal has instated a groundbreaking labour law that will revamp rights of remote workers in the country. According to the law passed in Parliament by Portugal’s ruling Socialist Party, it would now be illegal to contact remote workers beyond working hours. This is an attempt by government to improve work life balance of scores of remote workers as a continuation due to Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, it is also aimed to improve Portugal’s standing as an attractive destination for digital nomads. Now the question arises – can United States of America also implement a law in similar lines?
Apart from Portugal, several other countries too are striving towards modernizing and revolutionizing their labor laws. The “right to disconnect” is currently enjoyed by citizens of France, Spain, Belgium, Slovakia, Italy, the Philippines, Argentina, India and many more. The right to disconnect implies employees have right to abstain from communication of all sorts beyond designated working hours.
“I don’t think that we’ll see a firm requirement of employers to not at all contact employees during non-work hours,” says Orly Lobel, professor of law at the University of San Diego. California has laws currently that prevent employers forcing workers into overtime, and also has provisions of mandating overtime pay. But experts believe that enforcing laws about work hours and related issues at federal level will be highly complex to implement and contradictory to America’s nature of globalized professionalism. “I just don’t see it as a frontier right now,” Lobel says, “when there are so many things that could be better.”
“We have a long history in the United States of not having policies that make it easier to work and have a life, or work and have a family,” says Julie Kashen, director of women’s economic justice at the Century Institute.
Workers with minimum labor protection are bearing the brunt and reaching their threshold. It is no secret that US is facing an era of “great resignation” with at least 4.3 million Americans having quit the jobs this year August alone. Lobel and Kashen rightly believe that for America the most successful path towards achieving better work-life balance and rights for workers would be through corporate organizations accommodating more policies in this direction internally and implementing them.